Lucinda Sanford Design

Can you share the story of how you started Lucinda Sanford Design and what inspired you to offer a full build, design, and project management service?

After leaving university I pursued a career in events and marketing, both of which I greatly enjoyed and allowed me to work with some great companies.  I had always had a love of building and construction as well as design – Many of my childhood memories are about what houses and buildings looked like.  I purchased a very run down flat in 2006 and it was a very successful refurbishment, which I sold allowing me to do the same again and again, I then found myself with a small team of builders and decorators (some of whom still work with me today).  

I was then asked if I could help my friends sister with her new flat.  My real aim was to create a streamlined company offering all the services under one roof so that as an owner of a property you were not having to deal with various professionals, designers and contractors.  Instead of a roundtable meeting I wanted a company with one point of contact to take responsibility for decisions even if they were good or bad ones.   I also wanted to have one control on budgets – rather then different professionals running the different budgets. 

The company has adapted, in the start I was really a builder and project manager who could design as an add on, today we are really known for our design and the add on is that we can undertake the works and project management side if a client wants. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business in the construction and interior design industry, based on your own experience?

No job is ever the same, you will learn from mistakes but sadly each client and property has different issues that arise.  The key is how you respond to those challenges.

A sensible approach to design is very important – and costs, particularly these days are very high.  You need to make sure a client is aware of the reality of these costs from the outset.  Really take time to listen to the team who work for you on the ground – they are the absolute key to the business – we are only as good as the guy or girl holding the paint brush, running the pipes or pulling the cables.  Make sure they are very proud of their work too. 

In your journey as a business owner, what have been some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?

I am still learning all the time.  Being confident in what you offer and what your value is very important – its hard to remember sometimes particularly when you worry where the next contract may be coming from and its value.  

Taking the time to spend with clients over and above the formal meetings is important to grow a relationship that will continue beyond the project and hopefully lead to new work and clients. 

Word of mouth is the best recommendation.

As someone deeply involved in both the creative and practical aspects of building projects, how do you balance design aesthetics and functionality?

I am actually really driven by functionality and practicality – its all about the layout, the way people use their house and how they can grow into it.  I would always rather a client spends the budget on this and good bone structure – the creative accessories can come with time, collecting and buying as you go.  But you cant change the key structural parts of  a project which make a home really work for you. 

Entrepreneurship often involves taking risks. Can you share an example of a risk you took that paid off for your business?

I did make a financial step in 2019 when I moved my offices to a location 5 mins walk from our home in Fulham, a large increase in rent but nearer my family and many of my projects.  It was a big step – especially because just as we opened the doors we closed them again due to lock down – it became a very expensive move but my children had the benefit of home-school from there! 

I have not hugely invested in marketing and PR but I confess that this is something that I am turning to now a little.   Being part of Chelsea Flower Show with the RHS this May has been a really big part of this new step I am taking.  It was a lot of time and investment to put the schemes together, make the product and install it into The Blue Forest tree house (not to mention taking it all out again!).  However it was an amazing experience meeting so many people and showing them the detail and the style of what Lucinda Sanford Design does.  

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